Debate heats up over Top Two Primary

A new poll and multiple op-eds are placing the 2010 Top Two Open Primary ballot initiative in the spotlight.  The latest Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll revealed that 47% of likely voters consider the Top Two Primary to be a very important issue on next year’s ballot, outpacing marijuana legalization at 38%, a Constitutional Convention at 35%, and public funding for statewide elections at 32%.  The Top Two narrowly trailed gay marriage (51%) and finished third to lowering the legislative requirement to pass a budget (54%). As the 2010 elections fast approach, expect the Top Two Primary to play a pivotal role in the political polls.

Also, the Top Two Open Primary is receiving considerable attention in several media outlets.  Thomas Elias wrote a strong endorsement in the San Jose Mercury News, while Steven Greenhut and Richard Winger wrote potent rebuttals in the OC Register and San Francisco Bay Guardian, respectively.

In defense of the ballot initiative, Elias offered the following points:

1.  More moderate centrists will be elected

2.  Good public policy will trump partisan ideology

3.  It will give a voice to millions of voters

4.  It will serve as the first step toward a better, faster, and surer government, even more so than a Constitutional Convention

5.  If party ideologues despise the measure, then it must contain some merit

6.  Candidates would have to court voters across the political spectrum

7.  With California crippled by paralytic dysfunction, voters should consider the initiative a top priority

In opposition to the ballot initiative, Greenhut and Winger offered the following points:

1.  Initiative supporters seek candidates who think as they do

2.  Moderates have not solved California’s problems

3.  It would not address the state’s core fiscal issues

4.  It would eliminate third parties from the general election

5.  Incumbents, as in Louisiana and Washington, would retain a high re-election rate

6.  It would eliminate write-ins

7.  It would hamper debate and reduce voter choice

As next year’s elections draw near, independent-minded voters are encouraged to carefully study both perspectives and draw their own conclusions.  California is in desperate need of authentic, political and fiscal reform, and independents will play a crucial role in reshaping the golden state as the fastest growing segment of the electorate.